The King has arrived.
Henrik Lundqvist, along with Dan Girardi and Stu Bickel, joined his teammates today for Day 2 of the team's informal skate at its Tarrytown practice facility as the team prepares for a shortened 48-game schedule expected to begin Jan. 19.
"I think it's important you're ready right away in a short season," Lundqvist said, according to Rangers Rants. "you want to get a good start and ride it out. The season usually goes into different phases. You have the start and then you have a section in between the start and finish. Now, it feels like it's all one package, even though 48 games is still a lot of games."
With the shorter season, many have begun to speculate how many games Lundqvist will start. Luckily, the Rangers have a solid backup in Martin Biron, so giving him a start ever week or so doesn't spell doom for the Blueshirts in a season where one could argue wins and losses are even more important than in previous years.
"It's definitely going to be a challenge," he said, "but you can't worry about it. Go out there and have fun and realize you're back at it. I'm really happy about it, that we finally find a solution here and we can move past" the lockout.
Lundqvist did not play overseas during the lockout, despite invitations to play for his former team, Frolunda. He said he isn't thinking about that anymore.
"It would have been a cool experience to join my brother and play there," he said. "Even then, I always talked about what's best for my preparation for me to be ready here. I don't know. We'll never know."
Expectations are running pretty high for the club this season following last year's success and the addition of Rick Nash. But Lundqvist said the team must keep its feet on the ground.
"We probably need to stay humble and I think it's going to be important how we handle that pressure," he said. "The pressure we put on ourselves and the pressure from the outside. We had a great year but we worked really hard for it. We have to realize that's why we had success."
Lundqvist is really the only guy on this team you don't have to worry about. He's the definition of consistency, and despite being a historically slow starter, I expect him to come storming out of the gate.
I was lucky enough to watch him play at the Operation Hat Trick game in November, and he looked better than ever.